Tramadol hydrochloride, which is sold under the brand name of Ultram or Ultracet is classified as a centrally-acting analgesic. However, because more and more individuals have become addicted to this medication, some controversy surrounds its classification as a non-narcotic. Ultram withdrawal symptoms in most cases are just as severe or even worse than those experienced by individuals who have stopped taking drugs such as Vicodin or Percocet.
Developed in Germany in the 1970s, the drug was thought to be safer than most opioid analgesics and associated with less potential for abuse. However, although the United States Food and Drug Administration has not yet classified the medication as a narcotic, a vast number of professionals in the medical community believe that this action should be taken.
Ultram is essentially a synthetic narcotic, and is only different from pure narcotics with regard to the way it affects the patient's neuroreceptors. Traditional narcotic painkillers including Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin reach one's neuroreceptors in a specific pattern. Tramadol on the other hand, reaches the individual's neuroreceptors in a randomized fashion, which allows it to be classified as a non-narcotic. Unfortunately, however, for those who are susceptible to substance abuse, the effect is the same. The drug creates an euphoria that is virtually identical to that of the aforementioned narcotics. This has led to widespread abuse of the drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, has placed Ultram on the list of the top ten most abused prescription drugs in the United States.
Ultram also contains a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor-SSRI. The latter encourages the release of serotonin and slows the absorption of norepinephrine. The SSRI competent is what sets tramadol apart from other narcotic-like painkillers and although the combination appears highly effective in the treatment of pain, it is also an addicting substance that cannot be stopped abruptly without serious side effects. There is also a significant amount of controversy surrounding the placement of a SSRI component in a painkiller. Most often used for those suffering from clinical depression, SSRIs can have an adverse effect on those who are not diagnosed with any form of depression, but are simply searching for an appropriate painkiller.
Ultram is associated with dramatic withdrawal symptoms, particularly when the drug is stopping suddenly. Because it is a synthetic narcotic it may cause many of the same symptoms experienced by those who abruptly discontinue medications such as Percocet or Vicodin. These include nausea, vomiting, night sweats, anxiety, depression, nightmares, restless leg syndrome, and a generalized discomfort in one's appendages. The person may also experience extreme itching, headaches and a severe lack of appetite.
Because of the SSRI component, Ultram withdrawal symptoms may also include a-typical side effects such as seizures, aggressiveness, severe anguish, panic attacks, sharp shooting pain in the head, often referred to as a "tramadol brain zap," vertigo, diarrhea, insomnia, and dehydration. With most patients, tramadol withdrawal begins to occur 10-24 hours after the last dose is taken; however, this will vary from person to person depending a wide variety of factors such as the length of time he or she was on the drug, as well as the value of his or her prescribed dose.
Many individuals who attempt to wean themselves off the medication slowly in order to avoid the aforementioned withdrawal symptoms find that their addiction is simply too overwhelming. According to certain drug abuse experts, addiction to Ultram is particularly difficult to break due to the fact that it contains two addicting substances: the synthetic narcotic, to which one becomes both physically and psychologically addicted, and the SSRI component, to which the individual becomes physically addicted. This combination makes Ultram withdrawal symptoms particularly harsh. Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse, and in most cases professional help is necessary in order to completely overcome such addictions. Those who know or suspect that they cannot stop abusing tramadol should seek the help of a qualified medical practitioner as soon as possible. Treatments are available to assist those who have become a slave to drug dependency or addiction. Such programs typically include counseling and medication, the latter of which is designed to lessen Ultram withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who have become victims of substance abuse should not delay but seek help immediately in order to reclaim their lives.